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St. Anthony's Breadbasket E-newsletter gives you an opportunity to learn more about St. Anthony of Padua and how he continues to inspire the Franciscan friars in their work today, especially among the poor.

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Why is St Anthony the Patron Saint of lost things?

The reason for invoking St. Anthony’s help in finding lost or stolen things is traced back to an incident in his own life. As the story goes, Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. Besides the value of any book before the invention of printing, the psalter had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order.

A novice who had already grown tired of living religious life decided to depart the community. Besides going AWOL he also took Anthony’s psalter! Upon realizing his psalter was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned to him. And after his prayer the thieving novice was moved to return the psalter to Anthony and to return to the Order, which accepted him back. Legend has embroidered this story a bit. It has the novice stopped in his flight by a horrible devil, brandishing an ax and threatening to trample him underfoot if he did not immediately return the book. Obviously a devil would hardly command anyone to do something good. But the core of the story would seem to be true. And the stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.

In any event, shortly after his death people began praying through Anthony to find or recover lost and stolen articles. And the Responsory of St. Anthony composed by his contemporary, Julian of Spires, O.F.M., proclaims, “The sea obeys and fetters break/And lifeless limbs thou dost restore/While treasures lost are found again/When young or old thine aid implore.”

What is the connection between St Anthony of Padua and St Francis of Assisi?

St.Anthony was one of the most well known disciples of St Francis. There are a number of similarities in the lives and legends of these saints.

Anthony listened to the guidance of Francis.  In a letter to Anthony in 1224, Francis granted Anthony permission to teach theology to the friars.  Anthony took this very seriously, and he tried to combine his teaching while keeping his contemplative search alive.  Francis and Anthony both had great love of deep prayer and contemplation and they would often steal away from the midst of their busy lives to take time to pray and keep on their spiritual path. One of the places both saints would often visit was the little cave at Mt LaVerna. Another favorite was the Hermitage Le Celle.   It is said that Francis wrote his last will and testament while in deep solitude at Le Celle. Anthony would often visit this same hermitage to keep the spirit of prayer and devotion alive in his heart.

What is the difference between a friar and a monk?

In the early history of the church, the monks lived in monasteries and tended to stay in the monasteries all their life.  Christian people came to the monasteries for education, spiritual help, and the sacraments.  Francis and others began a new way of living religious life and doing ministry.  They went out from their residences to the people and preached, instructed and ministered to them.  This new way of living religious life and ministering to people began in the early 1200’s with the Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites and Augustinians.  Religious who live in monasteries are called monks while those who live in convents, but work outside their convents are called friars.

Why do the friars wear brown habits and what do the three knots on the cord mean?

The brown habit represents similar attire to the clothing that St Francis of Assisi originally wore.  Friars in this Province who serve in areas of extreme heat including Jamaica, Africa and the Philippines wear white habits.  The three knots on the friar’s cord represent his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

What is the relationship between the Shrine of St Anthony and Friar Works?

The St. Anthony Shrine is one of many ministries of the Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. John the Baptist.  The Friar Works office generates charitable gifts to support all Franciscan ministries so that we are better able to serve the poor and needy, our men in formation and our retired and sick friars.

How many Franciscan Orders are there?

The original Franciscan Order tended to divide into different factions over the interpretation of the Rule of St. Francis.  The main area of disagreement was about poverty–the use of money and material possessions.  In 1517 the Order officially split into two separate and independent Orders with permission of the Pope:  The Order of Friars Minor and the Order of Friars Minor Conventual.  In 1536 The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin split from the Order of Friars Minor and became an independent Order.  All three groups today follow the same Rule of St. Francis.  There are approximately 110 provinces of the Order of Friars Minor through the world.  Seven of them are in the United States. The Province of St John the Baptist in Cincinnati is one of the seven.

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